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Place-based Essays

Essays in SAH Archipedia are broadly grouped as either place-based or thematic. Place-based essays include overviews of architecture in specific U.S. states and cities. Thematic essays examine architectural and urban issues within and across state and regional boundaries. Like individual building entries, essays are accompanied by rich subject metadata, so you can browse them by style, type, and period. SAH Archipedia essays are comprised of peer-reviewed scholarship (born-digital and print-based) contributed by architectural historians nationwide.

Rockvale

By: Thomas J. Noel

Like neighboring Williamsburg, Coal Creek, and several other county towns, Rockvale (1882, 5,350 feet) began as a coal camp. Remnants of the commercial district include the diminutive Rockvale Town Hall (1913), southeast corner of Railroad and Mesa streets, with its pressed concrete...

Chaffee County

By: Thomas J. Noel

This county, with the mighty Mosquito Range on the east and the soaring Sawatch Range to the west, originated with mining camps on Cache, Chalk, and Trout creeks and the Arkansas River. Chaffee County was carved from Lake County in 1879 and named for U.S. Senator Jerome Chaffee. County...

Salida

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1880, 7,036 feet) takes its name from the Spanish word for exit because of its location at the west end of the Arkansas River canyon. D&RG town developer and former territorial governor Alexander C. Hunt laid out a V-shaped town grid bounded by the converging Arkansas...

Poncha Springs

By: Thomas J. Noel

Poncha Springs (1877, 7,469 feet), like the nearby pass and mountain, takes its name from the Poncha Hot Springs. Poncha Pass, the northern gateway into the San Luis Valley, attracted stage lines and the D&RG, while the town of Poncha Springs, originally called South Arkansas...

Nathrop

By: Thomas J. Noel

Nathrop (1879, 7,690 feet) was founded by and named for Charles Nachtrieb, who established an adobe home and flour mill (1868) here. The spelling of his name was not the only casualty; Nachtrieb himself was shot in the back in 1881 by a disgruntled employee. The town became an important...

Buena Vista

By: Thomas J. Noel

Buena Vista (1879, 7,954 feet), with its splendid view of the Collegiate Range to the west, lives up to its name. Pioneer prospectors, the story goes, named the peaks for their girfriends: Mt. Flossie, Mt. Fannie, Mt. Daisy Mae, Mt. Lulu, and so forth. After Buena Vista developed...

Granite

By: Thomas J. Noel

Granite (1868, 8,920 feet) was the first Lake County seat (1868–1878) and, for one year, the first seat for Chaffee County. Granite lies at the junction of the Arkansas River and Cache Creek, where argonauts first found pay dirt in 1860. The stage stop and town hub for the upper Arkansas...

Lake County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Lake County (1861) lured miners after 1860 gold strikes on the headwaters of the Arkansas River. Oro City, the initial camp on California Gulch, boomed briefly during the 1860s and became the first county seat. It was replaced by nearby Leadville after rich silver finds gave birth to that...

Leadville

By: Thomas J. Noel

The Lake County seat (1877, 10,152 feet) was born in a prospector's pan. The initial settlement of Oro City sprang up in 1860 along California Gulch as a gold camp. A decade later the black sand that had gummed gold miners' operations proved to be high-grade silver ore of lead...

Climax

By: Thomas J. Noel

Climax (1887, 11,320 feet) was named for the Denver, South Park & Pacific depot (1881) atop Fremont Pass, which became the first office of the Climax Molybdenum Mining Company. The Climax Molybdenum Mine (1916) turned low-grade molybdenum ore into Colorado's richest mine and mill...

Twin Lakes

By: Thomas J. Noel

Twin Lakes (1879. 9.210 feet) (NRD) developed as a resort on the north side of the lower of two lakes. The D&RG stagecoach service from that railroad's depot at Granite enhanced access, as did the opening of the Independence Pass road to the Aspen mines. This hamlet of small log...

Custer County

By: Thomas J. Noel

With the 1876 Battle of the Little Big Horn vividly in mind, legislators honored General George A. Custer when they created this county in 1877. Settlement has always been concentrated in the Wet Mountain Valley, framed on the west by the Sangre de Cristo Range and on the east by the...

Westcliffe

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1881, 7,888 feet) was founded by Dr. William A. Bell, vice president of the D&RG, who purchased several ranches and established a cheese factory in the town he named for Westcliffe-on-the-Sea in his native British Isles. He also brought in a D&RG rail spur to...

Silver Cliff

By: Thomas J. Noel

Silver Cliff (1878, 7,982 feet) was established as a result of silver discoveries in the nearby cliffs. In 1880 Silver Cliff boasted a population of 5,040, twenty-five saloons, twenty groceries, three hotels, and four newspapers. The silver panic of 1893 dealt a major blow, as did...

Huerfano County

By: Thomas J. Noel

A solitary black volcanic butte on the east side of I-25 known as Huerfano (Spanish for orphan) gave its name to the county, established in 1861. The Spanish Peaks, known to the Utes as Huajatolla, or “Breasts of the Earth,” are the county's other landmarks. The Wet Mountains on the...

Walsenburg

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1858, 6,185 feet), originally named La Plaza de Los Leones for founder Don Miguel Antonio Leon, was transformed by the 1870 arrival of ambitious German settlers who replatted and renamed it. Among the newcomers was storekeeper Frederick Walsen, who became the first...

La Veta

By: Thomas J. Noel

La Veta (1862, 7,013 feet) stands against the backdrop of the Spanish Peaks, which soar 6,000 feet above the surrounding plains. John Francisco, a Virginian, and John Diagre, a French Canadian, purchased the town-site from owners of the Vigil and St. Vrain Mexican land grant. Their adobe...

Las Animas County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Colorado's largest county ranges from broken prairie in the east to the high mountains of the Culebra Range in the west. Settled in the 1860s by agrarians, it proved to have some of the richest coal pockets in the Rockies. Las Animas became Colorado's fourth most populous county by...

Trinidad

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1859, 6,025 feet) is strategically sited on the Purgatoire River at the northern base of Ratón Pass on the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail. According to one story, sheepherder Gabriel Gutierrez named the place for a sweetheart left behind in New Mexico, Trinidad...

Kim

By: Thomas J. Noel

Kim (1917, 5,690 feet) is on the site of a farming village, founded around 1893, which failed because the settlers knew little about dry-land farming. Olin D. Simpson started the present town when he built a post office–store on his homestead and named it for Rudyard Kipling's boy hero....

Baca County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Named for Felipe Baca, a pioneer settler in Trinidad, this county (1889) forms the southeast corner of the state, bordering on Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Sanora Babb, who wrote of her 1920s childhood here in An Owl on Every Post (1970), observed: “While other parts of the...

Springfield

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1887, 4,365 feet) was named for Springfield, Missouri, home of some early settlers. The town is small and growing smaller with agricultural hard times. Once a thriving producer of broom corn, Springfield now houses about a third of Baca County's 4,500 residents. It...

Pritchett

By: Thomas J. Noel

Pritchett (1927, 4,827 feet), named for Dr. Henry S. Pritchett, a director of the Santa Fe Railroad, relieved neighboring Joycoy (1915–1927) of the post office when the railroad completed a spur from Springfield. The town is visible from some distance because of three ten-story white...

Two Buttes

By: Thomas J. Noel

Two Buttes (1910, 4,125 feet) is named for the twin-peaked butte 20 miles north, a prominent landmark in an otherwise level landscape. The doors of the Methodist Church open wide every Sunday morning, and the proprietor of the Two Buttes Grocery bills his customers once a month. Next...

Prowers County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Prowers County, established along the Kansas border in 1889, contains Colorado's lowest altitudes. Its prairie bottomland supports irrigated and dry-land farming and ranching. Trail City, one of the wildest Colorado cattle towns, flourished during the 1880s on the National Cattle Trail...

Lamar

By: Thomas J. Noel

Promoters named the county seat (1886, 3,622 feet) for U.S. Secretary of the Interior Lucius Quintius C. Lamar in hope of procuring federal patronage for the town. The Santa Fe Railroad ran excursions to Lamar and sold $45,000 worth of land the first day. “Only five short weeks ago,”...

Holly

By: Thomas J. Noel

Holly (1880, 3,397 feet) was named for pioneer Hiram S. Holly, whose 50,000-acre ranch sprawled along the Arkansas River bottomlands from Granada to the Kansas line. The town was the first home of the Holly Sugar Company before it expanded and moved to Colorado Springs. The Holly City...

Bent County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Named for Bent's Fort (now in Otero County), Bent County (1874) is a nearly perfect rectangle of rolling, open land. Thanks to the Arkansas River and the huge John Martin Reservoir (1948), irrigated farming is the mainstay, with some ranching and oil production. Recent restorations have...

Las Animas

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1886, 3,893 feet) was named for El Río de Las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio (river of lost souls in purgatory), or, in French, Purgatoire River, which flows into the Arkansas River nearby. The town grew up along the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe railroad tracks...

Otero County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Bent's Fort, an important early trading post in the American Southwest, attracted Native Americans, Hispanics, French trappers and traders, and Yankees, making this area the commercial hub of southern Colorado during the 1830s and 1840s. Otero County, carved from the western portion of...

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